« ZurückWeiter »
consecrated bell hath tolled, or the least sprinkling of holy water ; or else very late, after all services are past and over.
Here the party, in some vesture for that purpose, is presented, by some confederate or familiar, to the prince of devils sitting now on a throne of infernal majesty, appearing in the form of a man (only labouring to hide his cloven foot.) To whom, after bowing, and homage done in kissing, &c. a petition is presented to be received unto his association and protection; and first, if the witch be outwardly Christian, baptism must be renounced, the party must be re-baptized in the devil's name, and a new name is also imposed by him ; and here must be god-fathers too, for the devil takes them not to be so adult as to promise and vow for themselves. But above all, he is very busy with his long nails, in scraping and scratching those places of the forehead where the sign of the cross was made, or where the chrism was laid. Instead of both which, he himself impresses or inures the mark of the beast, the devil's flesh brand, upon one or other part of the body, and teaches them to make an oil or ointment of live infants, stolen out of the cradle (before they be signed with the sign of the cross), or dead ones stolen out of their graves ; the which they are to boil to a jelly; and then drinking one part, and besmearing themselves with another, they forthwith feel themselves imprest and endowed with the faculties of this mystical art. Further, the witch (for his or her part) vows, (either by word of mouth, or peradventure by writing, and that in their own blood) to give both body and soul to the devil, to deny and defy God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but especially the blessed Virgin, convitiating her with one infamous nick-name or other ; to abhor the word and sacraments, but especially to „spit at the saying of mass ; to spurn at the cross, and tread saints' images under feet; and, as much as possible they may, to profane all saints' reliques, holy water, consecrated salt, wax, &c. To be sure to fast on Sundays, and eat flesh on Fridays, not to confess their sins however they do, especially to a priest. To separate from the Catholic church, and despise God's vicar's primacy. To attend his nocturnal conventicles, sabbaths, sacrifices. To take him for their God, and worship, invoke, obey him, &c. To devote their children to him, and to labour all that they may to bring others into the same confederacy. Then the devil, for his part, promises to be always present with them, to serve them at their beck. That they shall have their wills upon any body; that they shall have what riches, honours, pleasures, they can imagine. And if any be so wary as to think of their future being, he tells them they shall be principalities ruling in the air; or shall but be turned into imps at worst.
Then he preaches to them to be mindful of their covenant, and not to fail to revenge themselves upon their enemies. Then he commends to them (for these purposes) an imp or familiar, in the shape of dog, cat, rat, mouse, weasle, &c. After this they shake hands, embrace in arms, dance, feast, and banquet, according as the devil hath provided in imitation of the supper. Nay, ofttimes he marries them ere they part, either to himself, or their familiar, or to one another, and that by the Book of Common Prayer (as a pretender to witch-finding told me in the audience of many.) After this they part, till the next great conventicle, or Sabbath of theirs, which meets thrice in a year, conveyed as swift as the winds from remotest parts of the earth, where the most notorious of them meet to redintegrate their covenant, and give account of their improvement. Where they that have done the most execrable mischief, and can brag of it, make most merry with the devil; and they that have been indiligent, and have done but petty services in comparison, are jeered and derided by the devil, and all the rest of the company. And such as are absent, and have no care to be assigned, are amerced to this penalty, so to be beaten on the palms of their feet, to be whipt with iron rods, to be pinched and sucked by their familiars till their heart blood come, till they repent them of their sloth, and promise more attendance and diligence for the future.”
66 And what was the condition of the
wretches," said the Bachelor, “ after all this, think you? Excommunication, horror, and misery, in every
form that detestation, contumely, and insult, could inflict. There was no humanity for them. They were regarded as having held hideous commerce with infernal beings. Every evil which befell their neighbours was imputed to their malice. Children fled at their approach, or pursued them with execrations, and hootings, and peltings. Many would not sell to them the necessaries of life. They were tried, by casting them into pools and rivers, and often murdered with impunity. I know few states of human distress more touching, than the condition of an innocent and harmless poor old creature suspected of the crime of witchcraft; an affecting instance of this is mentioned in Satan's Invisible World Discovered, in the case of a miserable woman condemned in 1649. She had been some time accused of the sin; and, being arrested, .confessed to the minister of the parish and other witnesses her guilt. Her confession was however suspected, and she was urged to revoke it; but she persisted, and was doomed to suffer. Being carried to the place of execution, she remained silent during the first, second, and third prayer, at the end of which she cried out,"
you that see me this day, know, that I am now to die a witch by my own confession, and I free all men, especially the ministers and magistrates, of the guilt of my blood. I take it wholly upon myself, my blood be upon my own head. And, as I must make answer to the God of heaven presently, I declare I am as free of witchcraft as any child; but being delated by a malicious woman, and put in prison under the name of a witch, disowned by my husband and friends, and seeing no ground of hope of my coming out of prison, or ever coming in credit again, through the temptation of the devil I made up that confession, on purpose to destroy my own life, being weary of it, and choosing rather to die than live.”
Say you, therefore, Egeria, that the laws which led to such effects were either wise or requisite ?"
“ I do not perceive the justness of the remark,” replied the nymph. 66 You must first shew me that the belief in witchcraft never existed, and likewise never any wretches who availed themselves of it to afflict others. It is however a curious historical fact, that there were persons who openly made a profession of witch-finding; and one of these, Matthew Hopkins, who took the style and title of witch-finder-general, was so proud of his skill and success, that he has recorded his exploits in a pamphlet, which he published, adorned with effigies of himself and of different imps. He ruined his trade however at last ; for he went on scorching and swimming poor creatures, till he so roused the indignation of some gentlemen by his barbarity, that they took him and tied his thumbs and toes together, as he used to tie those of others, and Aung him into
a water to his fate. The following extract from his book is at once ludicrous and horrible.”
“ The discoverer never travelled far for it ; but, in March 1644, he had some seven or eight of that horrible sect of witches, living in the town where he lived, (a town in Essex, called Maningtree,) with divers other adjacent witches of other towns, who every six weeks, in the night, (being always on the Friday night,) had their meeting close by his house, and had their several solemn sacrifices there offered to the devil, one of which this discoverer heard speaking to her imps one night, and bid them go to another witch, who was thereupon apprehended, and searched by women, who had for many years known the devil's marks, and found to have some marks about her which honest women have not; so, upon command from the justice, they were to keep her from sleep two or three nights, expecting in that time to see her familiars; which, the fourth night, she called in by their several names, and told them in what shapes to come, a quarter of an hour before they came, there being ten of us in the room. The 1st she called was Holt, who came in like a white kitling. 2. Jarmara, who came in like a fat spaniel, without any legs at all; she said she kept him fat, for he sucked good blood from her body. 3. Vinegar Tom, who was like a long-legged greyhound, with an head like an ox, with a long tail and broad eyes, who, when this discoverer spoke to, and bade him go to the place provided for him and his angels, immediately transformed himself into the shape of a child of four years old, without a head, and gave half a dozen turns about the house, and vanished at the door. 4. Sack and Sugar, like a black rabbit. 5. Newes, like a polecat. All these vanished away in a little time. Immediately after, this witch confessed several other witches, from whom she had her imps, and named to divers women where their